McClure reforms fail students
Published: 26 February 2015
The Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW) believes the McClure Welfare reforms seriously disadvantage young people and others hoping to improve their situation by studying.
This group, it seems likely, will be placed on the lowest level of welfare assistance, the so-called 'Foundation Tier' of the Working Age Payment. It can only be assumed that this will be at the very base level of income support, as it is now, and totally inadequate.
This replicates some of the worst elements of the current system where students are on the lowest paid Youth Allowance, Austudy or Abstudy. These allowances are even lower than the grossly inadequate Newstart Allowance.
The McClure reform agenda, while appearing to be strong on improving employment and social outcomes, has ignored the evidence of the ongoing Universities Australia studies that indicate an increasing polarisation between the 'haves' and the 'have nots that is seriously affecting the latter's ability to achieve a university. And this is on top of new $100,000 degree fees.
AASW President, Professor Karen Healy, says welfare reforms that leave many students destitute during their four or more years of university study are a serious failure of welfare policy.
"It is not good enough to say that students could work while completing their courses," said Professor Healy.
"Courses that prepared students for a professional career demand a full time commitment and there is limited additional time for paid employment. Yet increasingly students are being forced into long hours of paid work simploy to survive."
There appears to be no commitment in the report to a basic human right of being supported to live above the poverty line.